Every Monday and Friday I post in a mastermind group about what I plan for the week and then what I have actually achieved, and we hold each other to account for doing it. Last week we were discussing how people’s perceptions of what business consultants/ coaches/ business owners actually do is influenced by social media posts/ brief conversations at networking events or email communications. A suggestion was made that we should share what we have, and haven’t achieved so other people can see what our businesses do. Hence these posts! (even though I started a week early)
If you have any questions, please just get in touch on email@example.com and I’ll try to answer.
So, this week has been mainly away from home and the office for me while attending an ISO audit. We are thrilled (although not terribly surprised) that the client passed with flying colours. Reflects 14 months of hard graft on their part (and ours!)
I managed to make my local PSA meeting and heard the very lovely Roger Harrop speak, which is always a pleasure.
The rest of the team have been working on a new product we have in the pipeline (more news about that in coming weeks), a little bit of networking, developing new strategies for growth, getting a couple of proposals out for additional services to our current clients, client meetings and working on our digital client’s campaigns.
This week has been a busy one, it always is when I try to fit 5 days’ work into a 4 day week.
It has involved launching a management service for a new digital client, training sessions with the team, client meetings, new business development, some brand building for us, some support for our business partners and a couple of very exciting invitations for the coming month. We also enjoyed conversations with a couple of old business friends who have moved business/ location but lovely to touch base with them again and understand where they are now.
We bade farewell to 2 original team members which was very sad, but we’re glad to say they have been happily rehomed by a local charity.
(Just to clarify they were the original orange office chairs which we had in our first Derby office!!)
When I review my goals for the week I’m just about on track – a little wiggle room in the plan means we should still meet the plan by the end of the month!
We’ve also confirmed our places at the Derby Quad auction and at Huub events Derby Business Games. Will you be joining us there?
Before I even started university, I always knew that I wanted to take a year out of my degree to complete a placement. The idea of taking a year out was great, but my sixth form tutors never told me that searching for a placement would be so difficult.
It was hard to find a role which offered everything I was looking for – I wanted somewhere professional, with a great reputation and most importantly somewhere where I could not only expand on my current skills, but learn new ones as well.
After a while I decided to take my search closer to home, where I came across Marketing Derby. I was slightly out of the loop with everything that had been happening within the city for the past two years since I’d been living in Lincoln. So I was amazed to see the developments and changes that were happening across the city on their website. Whilst there weren’t any placement positions advertised, I decided to try my luck and send over my CV anyway. The week after I was lucky enough to be called into the office for an interview and I was ecstatic to be offered a 15-month placement as a marketing and admin assistant.
Moving back to Derby was strange, but in hindsight, it was quite easy getting used to the city again; getting used to living with my family again however, took a bit longer. Sorry Dad, but there’s only so much of football on the TV I can take before I start pulling my hair out. Continue reading
An Ikea security guard called Albert once told me that ‘you choose your attitude at work’, not randomly in passing, I was at my 1st day induction and he was saying the words that would stick with me to this very day; having no idea that 16 years later I’d still be hearing them loud and clear!
Very apt, as those queues stretched to the back of the warehouse; full of folk with their essential tealights, batteries and products that they could neither pronounce nor live without, coming through my checkout feeling exasperation but relief that they had finally made it and the well-deserved hot dogs were now so, so close.
Dealing with the customers who were always right, obviously, but also surprised at how much all those ‘bargains’ added up to, moaning about how long they had been waiting and then looking for their form of payment or spending just that little bit too long packing their shiny new Swedish belongings, you certainly need to choose the right attitude from the first customer to the last.
Of course, these days upon returning to those big blue walls to purchase my own tealights, batteries and products that I can pronounce because I once worked there, I am those customers; with gusto! Who am I to change the customer stereotype…I guess I just hope that Albert is still passing the message on. Continue reading
To celebrate storytelling week 2017 we are going to be featuring the stories of some of our favourite people -watch this space…………………
I’ve had a lot of emails this week advertising Black Friday deals from all sorts of companies. And while for retailers this has become the norm, in fact the ones who don’t discount stand out, what has surprised me is the number of B2B companies and service businesses that have also been advertising discounts on their services to new clients. It got me wondering how their current customers feel.
I think we all accept that you’re occasionally going to see something you paid full price for in a shop or online advertised cheaper later in the season or in an end of the season sale. And we’ve probably made the choice either to buy it at full price and enjoy it for the maximum amount of time, or we’ve decided to take the risk it will sell out, or not end up in the sale at all knowing that this means we might miss out on owning it at all.
But how would you fell if it was a service that you pay for regularly from one of your suppliers? Whether it be a monthly , quarterly or annual service. If that gets advertised as 25% off for new customers for first month, 6 months or even in one case I’ve seen this week, a year. If I had agreed a contract with that company last week (or actually at any time) I’d be feeling a little cross today. It would also make me question the value of the contract I have with them. Will the person paying 25% less get 25% less value? That’s not what the advert says (and yes we’re into a real scenario here, although fortunately I’m not their customer, one of my clients is) . I would feel that I was in effect paying a premium for a service I should be getting for a lot less money. Continue reading
Making the decision to outsource a service, a product, or a process can be the best thing you ever do for your business. It can save you money, people power and physical resources. If you are a small business and are trying to run your company single handed, then outsourcing will undoubtedly make the job easier. Well that has always been my opinion and is what I say to business owners when I get asked this question. I also recommend that businesses get into the habit of outsourcing as soon as possible in life of the business. Why?
- a) A business owner should concentrate on what they are good at, which is hopefully the core of the business. They need to be responsible for the growth of the business. So, unless the business is a bookkeeping one, accounts are probably not the key strength of the business owner. (OK, go on; you’re all going to tell me you were accountants in previous lives now aren’t you…)
- b) It implements good practices and puts in place the systems for when the business grows. (the longer into the life of the business you are, the more difficult it becomes to give up that control!) And of course don’t forget to document those processes
- c) Time! It will probably take an experienced bookkeeper a quarter of the time it takes you to keep your books in order. And it will take a good VA a lot less time to type up the reports/ quotes/ invoices for the business while you can focus on dealing with the customer interaction and the new sales.
- d) Flexibility: You can get vital skills for certain aspects of the business on an as and when basis.
A couple of years ago I wrote about being late to a business appointment http://www.thebusinessbloggingnetwork.com/2012/09/so-what-does-being-late-to-a-business-appointment-say-about-you/ and what it says about you and how it could impact on your relationship with the person you are meeting. Today’s events have led me to revisit this issue.
I was asked by a very good business friend to have a meeting with a public sector organisation. We set a date for them to come to a meeting at our offices. I postponed other fee-paying meetings and made sure the meeting room was ready for the meeting and we had refreshments available. 20 minutes after the meeting was supposed to start I got a text saying the other party was stuck in a meeting and could we postpone. While this was inconvenient I understand that these things can happen. However, I personally would have contacted someone earlier so they can free up as much time as possible so it can be useful.
After a few days they contacted me to rearrange, only to state; “ I can fit you in after another couple of meetings this day”. We refused the meeting, stating that it was too late in the day and with the evidence of time keeping we didn’t think setting anything after another meeting was a good idea. I also pointed out that as a business owner the business’s income is reliant on our time available to the business and having already lost an afternoons income I wasn’t prepared to waste any more. Continue reading
We all assume that smart phones, tablet pcs, netbooks, even laptops will make us more efficient in our businesses. But is that really true? Have you ever added up the amount of time you spend checking messages, Facebook page updates, LinkedIn status changes, tweets and of course grabbing for the phone every time it beeps?
I’m a huge fan of technology when it can help a business owner or employee. But I’m not so sure that our reliance on these devices doesn’t produce a negative effect on our businesses.
I can remember when I started work (and OK this is going to show how long ago it was…) we shared a pc between 2 people. Which meant that you couldn’t check for email every time it went “ping”? So we checked email 3 times a day and then had the PC to work on for either the morning or the afternoon. Luckily we had the factory shop floor and test facilities to fill the other half of the day! It wasn’t long after I started that we had a PC per person and it was then that email seemed to take over, and people expected a response almost immediately.
I did manage to get back to just checking it 3 times a day (first thing in the morning, lunchtime and then late afternoon – but not last thing or I’d always end up being late going home) during another job and actually noticed how much easier it became to concentrate on certain jobs when the irresistible call of the “you’ve got mail” ping was missing. TIP: if you still have your email notifications turned on, then turn it off, NOW! Continue reading
- Use it as an invitation to send hundreds of sales emails, or even worse (and my personal cardinal sin) add someone to a newsletter email list. Treat people’s details with respect. If you hate receiving spam, don’t become a spammer yourself!
- Keep them in bundles, wrapped in elastic bands, waiting for work to come to you. There is a wealth of information in those bundles and you’re missing out by just leaving them languishing in the corner
- Collect as many as you can at a networking event. In this case it really is quality over quantity. I’d rather collect one card from someone I want to talk to again then collect 20 from people I didn’t get to know. And of course don’t be the person that rushes round the room throwing your card at everyone in the room, whether you’ve spoken to them or not
- Leave them in a library book when you return it. This is someone’s personal data you have taken. They didn’t have to give it to you. You need to respect it and not use it as a bookmark. If you want to do that; use your own! So maybe that s an extreme case , but it’s a serious issue. People don’t have to give you their card; so look after it and use the information wisely.
- Make it such an odd shape or size that it doesn’t fit in a card holder. While I love cards that are unique, or different,if you want me to be able to access your details, or more importantly be able to pass your details on to others, then make it easy for me.
- Use black or very dark cards with light writing. I know they look classy, but use that for the side with an additional message, not your details. Use the dark colour as a highlight, or for the background to the logo. Make reading the data and accessing your data as easy as possible for people and also for the card readers that are now so often used for adding data to a CRM system
- Leave one side blank. Why waste this space? Use it to tell me something more about you and what you do. Something that makes you memorable. Saying that do leave a little space for me to write in the date and event where I met you and also room for me to note any follow up actions I promised when we spoke
And now for the useful stuff (well i hope):
- ask for 10-15 cards from the people that you regularly recommend to other people. That way you can pass on a card instead of just a phone number. Makes you look more professional as well as getting their relationship off to a good start
- Put what you do on it somewhere. Unless your business name is very very specific, will I be able to remember 3 years later when I’m going through that rubber banded bundle?
- Make it useful. Not everyone wants to email you or even call you. If you have a twitter account or a LinkedIn Account why not put your contact details for those accounts on there as well? Make it easy for people to get hold of you in the way THEY choose!
So how do you collect business cards? What do you do with them? and what’s your pet hate about the way they are treated by other people? I’d love to hear your views